GSME SPECIAL :: Who are You?

This week, I was blocked by an Influencer for the first time. I know they’re important because they have a six figure twitter account (though not verified, which is a useful indicator to whether a particular @ ‘handle’ is considered by Twitter to be legitimate.) They followed me on the back of last week’s Blog post, so it is understandable they consider my work important. I’ll not be taking my tongue out of my cheek for this whole post, so we’re clear, because I’ve learnt the lesson that often the last thing other people want to you to tell them on a public forum is that you’ve seen through their blag. Oh, and for those of you who don’t know what this means?

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So, to the tweet that started this all:

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I saw this and was genuinely interested. That is the thing to make clear from the outset: I didn’t decide ‘oh let’s see if this person’s being genuine or not’ I assumed because of their reach and their output (more on this in a moment) that this was someone who was selling a service. As an artist (after a fashion) I thought it would be great to check this link out and when I clicked through to the URL?

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Nothing. Zip. NADA. Most people would have probably left it at that but I was curious: eleven favourites (but nine at the time I noticed) two retweets and nobody bothered to check the link? I found this a little concerning, and so I tweeted the owner of the account directly:

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The first thing that rang alarm bells on the last tweet was the timestamp: this person was supposed to be in the same time zone as me, but obviously wasn’t. The second thing that rattled the writer in me was how capital letters completely vanished from the second tweet but were very obvious in the first: however, if it’s 6.30 am for that person, maybe they needed more caffeine. However, I’d not get another chance to engage them because after this polite and informative exchange? They immediately blocked me. That’s when I logged into my second Twitter account, took these screenshots and started digging.

My six figure Influencer spends an inordinate time posting complete and utter crap, it must be said: proverbs with lifted internet pictures, silly news stories, plus stuff that might actually be useful but could also turn out to be a lie. Effectively, a user with hundreds of thousands of followers is filling Twitter with noise. The sad thing is, of course, is that your feed and mine relies on accounts such as these for an important and often vital component of daily life: the inspirational quote account, the personal wellness account, or cats/dogs/chickens/animal of choice daily spamathon. Unless you can prove the person behind the picture is who they say they are however, how are you ever to trust their validity?

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Remember how there’s that one person you know who keeps warning you that the world is being taken over by robots and you think they’re just over-reacting? They’re not. Right now robot accounts form an unspecified percentage of a lot of Social media: posting those cheesy How To Life Hacks and telling you how to lose body fat with a neat trick is all part of a massive algorithmic network that knows what you buy on Amazon and can find you hot singles in your area. All of this following and favouring and even sharing of data is less and less about how hard you work and more about how much you’ll stump up a month to get the reach for. I’m staring at an offer right now that guarantees me 500,000 people who MIGHT read my blogs for the low low price of $19.99 a month, and it is easy to see how attractive that could be.

The other thing that’s scary, of course, is that nobody will talk about it, because it’s the Wild West out here right now with everybody and Mad Grandma Josephine on the take. In these situations, integrity becomes a useful beacon in a storm of often intentional deception. The streamer you’re watching with 100k followers is likely to have a higher proportion than most who are real people, but they too will be towing robots along for the ride, like it or not. Working out who is real is often as simple as spending five minutes reading their profile before you press ‘Follow.’ Today’s take away from this is simple: don’t assume everybody is real on the Internet any more. Do your homework. If you think something is wrong? It probably is.

Most importantly, never be afraid to question anything you see.

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